Analyzing cases and discussing their broader implications is the foundation of legal scholarship, but a lawsuit claims that one professor’s take on a pending employment discrimination case constituted defamation and invasion of privacy. 

New Jersey banker Robert Catalanello on December 28 sued Zachary Kramer, an associate dean at Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law and author of a 2011 law review article titled “Of Meat and Manhood.” The article explores a separate lawsuit brought by a fired employee who alleged that Catalanello discriminated against him because of his vegetarianism and perceived homosexuality.

The suit also names as defendants the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, which houses the journal that published the article, and Western New England University School of Law, where Kramer delivered a related lecture.

Catalanello is represented by Thomas Cafferty of Gibbons. Reached on January 2, he declined to comment without Catalanello’s permission. Kramer could not be reached for comment.

Kramer’s article focuses on developments in sex discrimination law, including the courts’ treatment of gender stereotyping and how sex discrimination is manifested in different forms of bias. “In the case of the male vegetarian, what may look like vegetarian or sexual orientation discrimination is really sex discrimination in the form of gender stereotyping,” the abstract argues.

The article cites former employee Ryan Pacifico’s 2009 complaint against Catalanello, including a charge that he made numerous derogatory comments equating Pacifico’s vegetarianism with homosexuality. “You don’t even eat steak dude. At what point in time did you realize you were gay?” he said, according to Pacifico’s complaint.

Catalanello’s lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, cites numerous examples of Kramer’s analysis of the Pacifico suit and claims they are false and defamatory.

“Catalanello harassed Pacifico not because Pacifico is vegetarian, but because Pacifico was not sufficiently masculine,” reads one passage that Catalanello cited. “The key here is that vegetarianism acts as a proxy for effeminacy.”

The complaint claims that Kramer’s article has subjected Catalanello to “contempt, hatred and ridicule” and has injured his reputation, causing “serious and permanent injury.”

Catalanello is a manager in the foreign exchange division of French investment bank Crédit Agricole. He also serves on the council of the Borough of Madison, N.J.

He is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorney fees.

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